Stumbling Upon My Passion at the Ott Memorial Writing Center

By Amanda Szramiak – Blank notepad and pencilI am currently enrolled in ENGL 4230: Writing Center Theory, and I have started my application to become a tutor in the Ott Memorial Writing Center here at Marquette.

I know what you’re thinking: We have a writing center? What does that even mean?

I wondered the same thing when Dr. Rebecca Nowacek told my class (ENGL 3210) about becoming a writing center tutor last semester. I went to an information session where current staff members talked about their jobs, and I was intrigued.

I began to contemplate taking the course. The class was four credits, and it fulfilled one of my writing requirements. I wasn’t sure if I could handle the workload, but I did have Dr. Nowacek before and she was a great teacher. I wasn’t sure if I could manage fifteen hours of interning on top of forty hours of field placement, but ambitious Amanda decided to ask for a permission code to enroll in the class.

Interning in the writing center has become an extreme passion of mine. The class is a lot of work, but I cannot explain how much I have learned over the course of the semester. Tutoring in the writing center is an intensely collaborative process, and it is quite different from teaching. As a tutor, I work with students in all disciplines, and we offer sessions to any writer at any stage of the writing process. Now that I know what the writing center is, I bring my own writing in to have a conversation about it. Whether you are a self-proclaimed writer or you struggle with compiling sentences, the Ott can help.

My tutoring philosophy for the writing center consists of many different values that resemble those I have developed in regards to teaching. One of the most important things for me as a tutor is making the writer feel comfortable. Coming in to the writing center and bringing personal writing can be a daunting task. By acknowledging this, I want to make all writers feel comfortable when sharing their writing.

In addition to making writers feel comfortable in sharing their writing with me, I aspire to make writers comfortable with their writing. I encourage writers by letting them know they are capable of anything they put their mind to, and I reassure them that I will be there every step of the way. As William Faulkner explained, “Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you do anything really good.”

I also value a collaborative and productive environment in the writing center. Doris Lessing said it best, “You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing.” Although I want to make students feel comfortable and confident, I intend to achieve the writer’s goal in a collaborative and efficient way.

Hopefully after reading this, I’ll be seeing you in the writing center!

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